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Case Studies

Case Study: Should a Writing Channel Use YouTube Shorts?

When growing your channel on YouTube, you have two distinct video types: Shorts and long-form. And although Shorts may be easier for some of you to create, how much do they really benefit the channel? Let’s run a case study for YouTube Shorts to find out.

In this study, I’m attempting to answer that question for my writing channel. Because of the niche, however, I am relatively certain Shorts just aren’t going to be a viable form of content.

I’ll explain why in just a moment.

Keep in mind that I am focusing this case study specifically on a writing channel that creates reviews and how-tos for writing apps, freelancing, and blogging. So, it’s not exactly binge-worthy content.

Tutorial channels will have a more difficult time succeeding on YouTube as opposed to entertainment.

Pros and Cons of YouTube Shorts

The first thing we’ll do is weigh the pros and cons of using short-form video content for this specific channel. These will play a bit of a role in determining if I should keep producing Shorts after the case study.

Pros of YouTube Shorts

  • Supposedly faster to record, edit, and upload.
  • Potential for displaying long-form videos on viewer home feeds.
  • Easy (ish) to clip from long-form videos.

Cons of YouTube Shorts

  • Needs 10 million views in 90 days to monetize.
  • Primary functionality from mobile devices (no apparent YouTube desktop editing element)
  • Does not influence 4,000 hours of watch time to monetize.
  • Difficult to come up with short ideas for writing.

Some Channels Will Struggle More Than Others

Entertaining and inspirational Shorts often work the best on YouTube. Channels that focus more on gaming or tutorials seem to have a much harder time gaining traction.

I determined this by analyzing several channel types and niches to get an idea of what has been working best for other people. Coincidentally, not a lot of writing channels put much effort into Shorts.

Oddly enough, I find coming up with ideas and producing long-form videos much easier than Shorts. Probably because my channel focuses more on tutorials and highlighting certain aspects of writing.

Then again, with so many channels on YouTube, there could be some greatly successful writers out there with short-form content.

Like all other content on YouTube, it’s about keeping people watching your videos. If you can create binge-worthy content people enjoy watching, then it’s easier to succeed.

But if you’re not delivering within a few seconds, people will just swipe away and see what’s next. At this point, the chances of that person seeing another one of your videos greatly diminish.

Swiped Away

In other words, for a tutorial channel, you need to get to the point almost instantly to keep people watching. And even then, the odds of you getting a viewer interested in your Shorts who is just swiping away one day are exceptionally low.

That’s because once someone learns what they want, they’ll move on. Sure, you’ll have some ardent fans who’ll watch everything you upload. But getting to 10 million views in 90 days is impractical for a tutorial channel.

Then again, I could be wrong. That’s the point of running a case study on your channel. It gives you the opportunity to see what works, what doesn’t, and what kind of changes you can make to become successful.

Never underestimate the value of good data.

The Purpose of This Case Study for YouTube Shorts

As I said, case studies can help you determine the best course of action for your platform. Sure, you can take the suggestions of other creators, but not everyone will experience the same level of success.

What works for one person may ultimately fail for another. Every channel is unique, mostly due to the personality behind it. That’s because people become as invested in you as your content.

There are two underlying aspects I want to determine with this case study: subscribers and watch time.

Growing Subscriber Numbers

According to some experts, you can quickly grow your subscribers directly from Shorts on YouTube. My question is how many of those subscribers stick around to watch long-form video content? Are they simply subscribing to see more Shorts?

In any case, I am interested to see if the average subscriber growth per week is affected by producing regular Shorts. By monitoring overall subscribers, I should be able to see if people are, indeed, sticking around for the longer videos.

Influencing Long-Form Video Watch Time

Because long-form videos appear on the home feed of Shorts viewers, I am interested to see if there is a noticeable difference in total watch time. Of course, this is also influenced by the type of long-form videos uploaded.

You can create amazing Shorts but have crap for a long-form video strategy.

I’m also tracking impressions as I am curious to see if there is a noticeable difference in how often videos are displayed. Even just showing up on a home feed would count whether the person watches it or not.

Collecting the Data

This YouTube Shorts case study will run for 12 weeks. It’s not a very long study, as I usually focus more on six months at a time or more. Still, 12 weeks should be enough time to see some kind of change in viewing behavior.

I am also keeping track of the changes for each week.

The reason why this is such a shorter study is that I also have a few other channels I’d like to try this on as well. The problem is that I don’t have enough time to run all of them simultaneously.

I barely have enough time to keep the blogs afloat.

Here is the data I’ve collected for the YouTube Shorts case study:

Everything highlighted in yellow are days that have been confirmed. The light blue indicates the Shorts data, such as how many I created that week and whether they gained any subscribers.

The days without a yellow highlight are estimates based on previous numbers. I usually do this so I can see if there is any significant growth while conducting the study.

Conclusion for YouTube Shorts

As this is an ongoing case study, I don’t have much to share. I’ll update this post as soon as it’s completed. But for now, as you can see from the data, it looks like the results might be a bit skewed.

This is because YouTube is a fickle mistress. Channels can experience such wide fluctuations in things like impressions and watch time depending on everything from social trends to a single video upload.

Currently, my channel is in a bit of an uptick for some unknown reason. So, that might affect the overall data should the channel experience a severe decline, which it has done in the past.

Who knows? This case study could become an absolute flop. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

What Type of Videos Do You Prefer Uploading?

Personally, I prefer long-form videos. Again, that’s because of the nature of the content I create. It’s kind of hard to cram a 10-minute tutorial into a 60-second clip and still make it understandable.

Then again, once I shift to the weight loss vlog, I might like doing Shorts more often.

Which kind of videos work best for your YouTube channel?

Michael Brockbank

Michael Brockbank

Michael has been managing YouTube channels for the better part of a decade. He's continuously working to find the best methods that work for various types of content from gaming to website tutorials.

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